How to Safely Store Personal and Family Paper Records

Even in a time of digital everything, most people still possess a number of important paper documents. In some cases, they are legal documents like deeds or social security cards. In other cases, the documents are family records, such as old journals and diaries.

Preserving these paper records takes some special measures and precautions. This is especially true in the case of old family records, which often prove quite fragile.

If you need to protect current documents or family records, keep reading for some measures you can take to keep them stored safely.

Acid-Free Storage Container

Many storage boxes, plastic sleeves, and even low-quality paper contain a mild acid. That’s fine for short-term storage or documents you only need for a few years. In the long-term, that acid can ultimately damage the stored documents.

The acid problem is especially serious with older, family records. The paper may already contain acid and storing it in a box or sleeve with additional acid can accelerate decay.

Nobody wants to find their grandfather’s irreplaceable journal or great grandparent’s marraige certificate crumbling to pieces.

Safe or Safety Deposit Box

For documents you may need regular access to, consider getting a safe or safety deposit box. A few common documents people need regular or periodic access to include:

  • Birth certificates
  • Passports
  • Last will and testament
  • Insurance paperwork

If you plan on keeping these at home, the most likely culprits for damage are fire or flooding. Invest in a fire-resistant safe to protect your documents from fire. You can help protect the documents from flooding by storing them in watertight containers inside the safe.

If you’re not comfortable keeping these documents at home, a safety deposit box provides a high level of security.

Storage Unit

Old family records can accumulate to the point that it’s cumbersome to store them at home. Even worse, the constant changes in temperature and humidity can speed up the decay of old paper documents and photographs.

You can avoid all of these problems by using climate-controlled storage units.

A storage unit lets you move those documents out of your home and free up precious space. The climate control in the storage unit makes it a better place for old documents, thanks to the stable temperature and humidity.

You can find climate-controlled storage units within reasonable driving distance of most locations.

Parting Thoughts on Safely Storing Paper Records

Safely storing paper records takes preparation and some precautions. You must balance a need for access against the threat of damage.

In the case of legal documents or documents that prove identity, you’ll need regular access to those. That calls for a fire-resistant safe and watertight storage containers or a safety deposit box.

For one-of-kind family documents, the primary concern is limiting decay. For that, you need acid-free storage containers or plastic sleeves. Combine those with a climate-controlled storage unit and your documents will last a lot longer.

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